GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Contexts of British Plays to 1660

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 158 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

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Example Question #3 : Analyzing The Content Of Drama

The story told in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is often thought to be derived from the story of __________.

Possible Answers:

Samson and Delilah from the Bible

Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid's Metamorphoses

Dido and Aeneas from the Aeneid, by Virgil

Orpheus and Eurydice from Ovid's Metamorphoses

Lancelot and Guinevere from Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart by Chretien de Troyes

Correct answer:

Pyramus and Thisbe from Ovid's Metamorphoses

Explanation:

The general consensus among scholars reflects that Shakespeare derived his story and main characters for Romeo and Juliet from Ovid's story of Pyramus and Thisbe. The story of Pyramus and Thisbe depicts two tragic lovers who are separated by their families, who do not approve of their marriage. They communicate their love through a cement wall and plan to meet under a tree outside to confess their love. However, when Thisbe comes out first, she mistakes the blood of a lion for Pyramus' blood and, believing he had been killed, kills herself.

Example Question #1 : Contexts Of British Plays To 1660

But full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthfull knight could not for ought be staide,
But forth unto the darksome hole he went,
And looked in: his glistring armor made
A litle glooming light, much like a shade,
By which he saw the ugly monster plaine,
Halfe like a serpent horribly displaide,
But th'other halfe did womans shape retaine,
Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine.

The author of the poem was a contemporary of __________.

Possible Answers:

Geoffrey Chaucer

William Shakespeare

Caedmon

John Milton

John Skelton

Correct answer:

William Shakespeare

Explanation:

The excerpt is taken from a poem by Edmund Spenser, who lived during the second half of the sixteenth century. Though he was a contemporary of Early Modern poets like William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, Spenser utilized deliberately archaic language that may seem like something that one would be more likely to find in Chaucer's poetry.

Passage adapted from The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, I.xiv.1-9 (1590)

Example Question #1 : Contexts Of British Plays To 1660

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,

And what strength I have’s mine own,

Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,

I must be here confined by you,

Or sent to Naples. Let me not,

Since I have my dukedom got,

And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell

In this bare island by your spell;

But release me from my bands

With the help of your good hands…

Who is the author of this play?

Possible Answers:

Sir Walter Raleigh

Christopher Marlowe 

Ben Jonson

William Shakespeare

Thomas Kyd

Correct answer:

William Shakespeare

Explanation:

This is the famous epilogue from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1623).

Christopher Marlowe wrote Dr. Faustus (1604). Thomas Kyd wrote The Spanish Tragedie (1587). Ben Jonson wrote Every Man in his Humour (1598). Sir Walter Raleigh wrote "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" (approx. 1598).

Example Question #3 : Contexts Of British Plays To 1660

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,

And what strength I have’s mine own,

Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,

I must be here confined by you,

Or sent to Naples. Let me not,

Since I have my dukedom got,

And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell

In this bare island by your spell;

But release me from my bands

With the help of your good hands…

What genre does this play belong to?

Possible Answers:

history

comedy

epic

tragedy

None of the other answers is accurate

Correct answer:

None of the other answers is accurate

Explanation:

While The Tempest (1623) isn’t strictly considered one of Shakespeare’s problem plays, it also doesn’t fit into an easy category like tragedy, comedy, or history. While the play was originally billed as a comedy in Elizabethan times, it has since been recategorized by most scholars.

Example Question #4 : Contexts Of British Plays To 1660

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,

And what strength I have’s mine own,

Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,

I must be here confined by you,

Or sent to Naples. Let me not,

Since I have my dukedom got,

And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell

In this bare island by your spell;

But release me from my bands

With the help of your good hands…

Which of the following characters is not from this play?

Possible Answers:

Miranda

Iago

Ariel

Caliban

Prospero

Correct answer:

Iago

Explanation:

Iago is a character in Shakespeare’s Othello (1622), not from The Tempest (1623).

Example Question #5 : Contexts Of British Plays To 1660

To be thus is nothing,

    But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo.

    Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature

    Reigns that which would be fear’d. ‘Tis much he dares,

    And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,

    He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor

    To act in safety. There is none but he

    Whose being I do fear; and under him

    My genius is rebuked, as it is said

    Mark Antony’s was by Caesar.

Who is the author of this play?

Possible Answers:

William Shakespeare

Thomas Kyd

Sir Walter Raleigh

Ben Jonson

Christopher Marlowe

Correct answer:

William Shakespeare

Explanation:

This is a monologue from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1623). Even if you weren’t familiar with the monologue itself, you could have recognized Banquo as one of the central characters in the play.

Example Question #2 : Contexts Of British Plays To 1660

To be thus is nothing,

    But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo.

    Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature

    Reigns that which would be fear’d. ‘Tis much he dares,

    And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,

    He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor

    To act in safety. There is none but he

    Whose being I do fear; and under him

    My genius is rebuked, as it is said

    Mark Antony’s was by Caesar.

What genre does this play belong to?

Possible Answers:

melodrama

comedy

tragedy

history

problem play

Correct answer:

tragedy

Explanation:

This play is a tragedy; in fact, the full title is The Tragedy of Macbeth (1623). In the play, Macbeth and his wife are ruined by their fatal flaws of weakness and ambition, a classic trope in tragedy.

Example Question #7 : Contexts Of British Plays To 1660

To be thus is nothing,

    But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo.

    Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature

    Reigns that which would be fear’d. ‘Tis much he dares,

    And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,

    He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor

    To act in safety. There is none but he

    Whose being I do fear; and under him

    My genius is rebuked, as it is said

    Mark Antony’s was by Caesar.

What is the setting of this play?

Possible Answers:

ancient Egypt

Denmark

Venice, Italy

Scotland

Verona, Italy

Correct answer:

Scotland

Explanation:

Macbeth (1623) is set in Scotland. (Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1604) is set in Denmark, Antony and Cleopatra (1623) is set in ancient Egypt, Romeo and Juliet (1597) is set in Verona, and Othello (1622) is set partly in Venice.)

Example Question #8 : Contexts Of British Plays To 1660

To be thus is nothing,

    But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo.

    Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature

    Reigns that which would be fear’d. ‘Tis much he dares,

    And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,

    He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor

    To act in safety. There is none but he

    Whose being I do fear; and under him

    My genius is rebuked, as it is said

    Mark Antony’s was by Caesar.

What historical document served as a basis for this play’s storyline?  

Possible Answers:

Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland

Herodotus’ Histories

The Domesday Book

Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The Magna Carta

Correct answer:

Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland

Explanation:

Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587) contains an account of real Scottish historical figures called Macbeth, Macduff, and Duncan. The story of Shakespeare’s play differs considerably from Holinshed’s story, though.

Herodotus' The Histories (440 BCE), The Domesday Book (1086), Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776), and The Magna Carta (1215) were all used as alternate answer choices.

Example Question #9 : Contexts Of British Plays To 1660

To be thus is nothing,

    But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo.

    Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature

    Reigns that which would be fear’d. ‘Tis much he dares,

    And, to that dauntless temper of his mind,

    He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor

    To act in safety. There is none but he

    Whose being I do fear; and under him

    My genius is rebuked, as it is said

    Mark Antony’s was by Caesar.

Which of the following is not a character in this work?

Possible Answers:

Cordelia

Fleance

Macduff

Donalbain

King Duncan

Correct answer:

Cordelia

Explanation:

Cordelia is a central character in Shakespeare’s King Lear (1608), not Macbeth (1623).

 

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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